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You must need small fingers to milk sheep

George stepping out

Madame has hope

Madame has hope

I must take some ewe’s milk cheese home from Aquitaine.
The first person I met in the village was Pierre
in his barn down the slope.
I could see the machinery but not until he told me:
‘laiterie’ and ‘brebis’ did I realise the local tradition
of cheesemaking, unknown at home.
It takes maybe 8 litres of sheep’s milk to a kilo of cheese-
Thank goodness Pierre didn’t have to do it by hand,
I said linking my experience of milking Moira for a month
for the benefit of halfcalf George-
who would not suck.
Rene leaning against the wall in his blue singlet looked sceptical,
but Pierre was open for chat
bout the changes in the villages,
les jeunes – the young dont want it,
don’t know how to work,
we shared a conversation held many times at home,
he brought his fingers to his mouth
they just want this he said
fumer hashish-
now that did surprise me a bit!
So I am in Lurans for my ewe’s milk cheese
and chat with madame about the way of things
in rural Aquitaine – a place of producers, ageing ones-
and seasonal tourist outlets, but shorter seasons.
‘Do you think these small producers will survive?’
I asked, she looked apprehensive and then cleared
as she handed me a sliver first of pure ewe’s milk,
then sheep/goat/melange then local vache-
known only as ‘Ferme Glorion’ the farmers name.
‘O I think so she said,
there are new people;
they look at things differently,
they are willing to start at the bottom.’

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